There are a ton of articles already out there about “best travel apps” but a lot of those are written from the “hey, wouldn’t this be nice” perspective. Which is definitely not the same as “I tested this shit out living on the road for over 2 years and actually found what was useful” perspective.
There’s a whole crapload of iphone apps that I downloaded at one time or another and ended up not using for one reason or another. Those didn’t make this list.
So from actual experience » these are the apps that I consistently found useful over the past few years traveling:
This app gives you 3 killer hotel deals for same day stays. At noon every day they show 3 hotels per city (or per part of city for places like LA or NY). Have used this successfully in Miami, LA, and NYC, and have found deals on really nice hotels that’s saved us something like 25-40% off. I also get bonuses on all stays that I can redeem for future stays for extra discounts (they add up) that I got by signing up through Founders Card.
2. Open Table
Have used this in tons of cities – Austin, Vegas, New York – especially useful on busy nights to get a table somewhere where it’s usually packed.
In a new city and want to know a good restaurant? or what’s open right now? This app is really useful – especially useful for looking up photos (have to hit “more photos” button) to get a feel for the atmosphere of a given place – since we’re such picky bastards :)
My flight search engine of choice for finding the best deals on flights. We use this all the time to check out flight prices. I tend to book tickets on my Macbook Air once I know where I want to go and what’s available, but it’s a quick on-the-go way of seeing what’s available and what the tickets cost.
This is only available in big cities like New York and San Francisco, but it rocks. You pull up the app, request a pickup, and 10 minutes later you have a Mercedes (or some other sweet ass luxury vehicle) – you can even see where the driver is at any given time on the GPS map. Your credit card is already on file so you just hop in and hop out.
This one is probably the shittiest “app” in the sense that it’s more like a web page wrapped inside an app, but the website itself is super useful for finding deals on hotels wherever I’m going. If nothing good is available on Hotel Tonight (see above), we usually use Hotels.com to look up the room, then I whip out my laptop and book it on there (since it’s easier than doing it on the app).